The Australian share market erased the morning’s falls and backflipped to close on positive territory. Investors shrugged aside concerns of conflict in Iraq and concentrated instead on upcoming central bank action. The Reserve Bank will release its June board meeting minutes tomorrow and a meeting of US Federal Reserve bankers will occur on Wednesday. Across the market today weakness from iron ore companies was offset by strength among the gold miners helping to push the resources sector to the best performer.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 7 points higher at 5,412.
The value of trades was $3.47 billion on volume of 589 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
On the futures market the SPI is 10 point higher.
New home building in Australia is predicted to hit a 10-year high this year. The Housing Industry Association’s National Outlook has forecast dwelling commencements to rise 7.1 per cent to almost 180,000 this year, building on from a gain of 10.9 last year. The anticipated result would come in second to a record result of 187,000 dwellings commenced in 1994. HIA says, “Residential construction is making a vital contribution to the re-balancing of growth in the nation’s economy”.
Fiscal 2014 financial forecasts
Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP)
jumped to the best performer in the top 200 after forecasting higher than expected full year earnings. The casino owner and operator expects to report annual normalised EBITDA of between $430 million to $435 million in the 2014 financial year. Echo says its cost cutting program and improved profit focus have continued to support earnings growth in the second half. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group closed 7.58 per cent stronger at $2.98.
Super Retail Group's Limited (ASX:SUL)
Managing Director Peter Birtles says its latest earnings guidance is a result of external factors rather than a deterioration in internal execution. The auto, leisure and sports retailer expects profit growth of 5 per cent in fiscal 2014, down from growth of 23 per cent achieved in fiscal 2013. Super Retail has blamed its recent performance on a significant downturn in consumer confidence since the Federal Budget and warmer weather in Autumn. Shares in Super Retail Group closed 3.35 per cent higher at $8.32.
Shares in Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Limited (ASX:NEC)
ended higher after the media group refinanced its debt facilities in a move which is expected to generate annual cost savings of about $20 million.
Shares in Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI)
finished lower as the iron ore miner refinanced $US725 million of syndicated facilities today and claimed its lenders show continued confidence in the company.
Shares in UGL Limited (ASX:UGL)
firmed after the engineer named its new chief Ross Taylor and announced it has sold its global property services business DTZ for $1.2 billion to US private equity group TPG .
Shares in Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (ASX:FLT)
lifted after the travel agent said will team up with Vietnam’s largest privately owned travel and hospitality group to target destination management expansion across Asia.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was materials, adding 76 points to close at 9,563.
The worst performing sector was consumer staples, losing 52 points to close at 9,863 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML)
, rising 8.41 per cent to close at $1.87. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP)
and Acrux Limited (ASX:ACR)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Evolution Mining Limited (ASX:EVN)
, dropping 9.47 per cent to close at $0.77. Shares in Lynas Corporation Limited (ASX:LYC)
and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI)
also closed lower.
Investor in alternative asset classes Blue Sky Alternatives Access Fund Limited (ASX:BAF) floated with an issue price of $1.00, opened at $1.00 and closed at $1.01.
Apparel business The PAS Group Limited (ASX:PGR) floated with an issue price of $1.15, opened at $1.10 and closed at $0.96.
Gold is trading at $US1,282 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.38 higher at $US106.91 a barrel.
The Australian dollar has strengthened over today’s session and is now buying $US0.9411.